Act 1, Scene 4: Slaves and Allies [Bar-Fight]


Slavery in the Roman Empire

No people in recorded history owned so many slaves or relied as heavily upon slave labour as the Romans did: slavery was vital to both the economy and the social fabric of society.

Most slaves were acquired through warfare, with Roman armies bringing captives back as part of their spoils of war. Selling defeated soldiers as slaves brought a lot of income, and was an alternative to imprisoning or killing them. New slaves were primarily acquired by wholesale dealers following in the wake of Roman armies. Julius Caesar once sold the entire population of a conquered region of Gaul - no fewer than 53,000 people - to slave dealers.

In addition, people could sell their own children into slavery and creditors could claim insolvent debtors as slaves. If a slave married and had children, the children would automatically become slaves, and sometimes parents would rather kill their newborn child than let let it live as a slave.

Slaves were treated in a wide variety of manners. Obviously a mine worker lived a very different life than a house slave. Some were so highly regarded that they were considered parts of families, worked a regular shift and were free to come and go as they pleased outside of that time. Others lived in inhuman and harsh conditions, victim to the whims of society or the cruelty of their masters.

A good master looked after a good slave as an equally good replacement might be hard to find, and often very expensive. For example, a good cook was highly prized as the rich families of Rome's elite had the habit of trying to outdo each other when banquets were held.

Slaves who tried to escape were hunted down without mercy, often by professional slave-catchers. Advertisements with precise descriptions of escaped slaves were posted, offering rewards. If caught, they could be punished by being whipped, seared with hot irons, or even killed. Those who lived were branded on the forehead with the letters FVG, for "fugitivus".

Slaves could gain freedom only through their owner's gratitude after loyal service or by buying it through any meager earnings they might collect over a lifetime of servitude. They would have to raise exactly as much money as their master had paid for them - a nigh-on impossible task.

Main Dialogue

%ACT% Flavius is cleaning the counter (2nd Playrail) in [5]

%ACT% Two patrons are sitting at the table (Playrail) in [5]

%HND% Curtain - open

%SND% 0401 - Tavern Ambience

%LIG% Lights on, [7-4] left side of stage dimmed reddish/orange/yellow 40% (tavern interior), [4-1] right side dimmed to 20% (storage room)

%SND% 0402 - Open Door

%ACT% Vesonia enters from [7]. She is wearing a hooded cloak, with the hood covering most of her face.

Vesonia: "Quick, come in, and close the door! I think we managed to shake them off, but they're going to be looking for us!"

%ACT% Marcus and Vinnie enter after Vesonia, but wait at the door. They have taken off their gladiator outfits, wearing contemporary tunics (or whatever).

Vinnie: "Where are we?"

Vesonia: "You're not from Pompeii, are you? Don't worry. This place belongs to a friend of mine."

%ACT% Vesonia walks to the bar counter, and pulls back her hood

Vesonia: "Greetings, Flavius!"

Flavius: "Oh, hello Vesonia. What an unusual time to see you here. Scipio must have had quite a binge if he's out of wine already."

Vesonia: "This time I'm not here for your wine. Do you still remember the little favour you owe me? I need some time to talk to my new friends over there. But Gavius' and his soldiers are on our heels, and if they catch us, they're going to get our heads. We need a place to hide."

Flavius: "By Jupiter, what did you do?"

Vesonia: "The less you know, the better."

Flavius: "Understood. You can hide in my storage. If you're hungry or thirsty, feel free to take whatever you like. There's also a large empty crate back there. If you hear me knock on the counter like this... (knocks on the counter)"

%SND% 0403 - Knock Signal

Flavius: "... hide in the crate, and be quiet!"

Vesonia: "Thank you, Flavius! *throws him a kiss*"

%ACT% Vesonia turns, and waves to the others

Vesonia: "This way, everyone!"

%ACT% Vesonia, Marcus and Vinnie walk into the storage room. (Flavius stays behind the counter.)

%ACT% They close the door behind them.

%SND% 0404 - Close Door

%LIG% Left side of Stage down to 20%, right side up to 40%

%SND% 0405 - Storage Room Ambience

%ACT% Marcus walks behind the crate (on 2nd level)

%ACT% Vinnie stands left to the crate (on front rail)

%ACT% Vesonia stands right to the crate (on front rail)

Vesonia: "*sigh* There. We're safe, for the time being at least. By the way, my name is Vesonia. And who are you?"

Marcus: "I'm Marcus. And this is my friend, Vincentus. I have no idea why you did this, but thank you for saving us!"

Vesonia: "You're welcome! You were just way too cute to be fed to the tigers."

Marcus: "Aww, that's really sweet! But that's not the whole reason, is it?"

Vesonia: "Let's just say I figured you wanted to get out of the arena as much as I did."

Vinnie: "You got that right. But why did you want to get away?"

Vesonia: "Because I no longer wanted to be Scipios personal whore."

Vinnie: "Who the hell is Scipio?"

Vesonia: "What, you don't know him? Lucius Scipio Labeo is the one who organises the games in the circus. One of the richest and most influential men in town. How did you end up in the arena without ever hearing his name?"

Marcus: "I'm sorry, but we've barely even arrived in this city. You're wearing a slave's collar. Is this Scipio guy your owner? Has he been treating you badly?"

Vesonia: "I'd love to tell you the full story, but first I need to know if I can trust you. In the arena, you stuck out like a sore thumb. You're not gladiators, that's for sure. So who are you, and what are you doing here?"

Vinnie: "You really wouldn't believe us."

Vesonia: "Well, try me."

Vinnie: "So there we were, some 2000 years in the future, when suddenly the earth started shaking, and ..."

Marcus: "... and then Vinnie was hit on the head by a rock, and he's been a bit soft in the head ever since."

Vinnie: "What???"

Marcus: "Don't listen to him. We're really just humble commoners from Vindobona. They forced us to enlist with the army to guard the North-Eastern border. When we refused, they sent us down here to be fed to the lions. Before that, I used to be a carpenter."

Vinnie: "And I used to be a hovercraft pilot. But then I took an arrow to the knee."

Marcus (angry): "VINNIE!"

Vinnie (defiant): "Well, if you're not going to tell her the truth anyways..."

Marcus (turning back to Vesonia): "As I said, don't listen to his nonsense. He used to be the blacksmith's apprentice - breathing all those toxic fumes didn't help his intelligence, and the rock slide accident did the rest. Very sad story."

%ACT% Vinnnie sticks his tongue out at Marcus going "yadda yadda yadda".

%SND% 0406 - Door Open (dampened)
%SND% 0407 - Thriller Music I

%ACT% Caius Gavius Rufus, followed by a soldier enters the tavern from [7]

%LIG% left side of stage up to 40%

%ACT% Flavius gives the signal

%SND% 0408 - Knock Signal

Vesonia: "*GASP* There's the signal! Into the crate, quickly!"

%ACT% They open the crate

%SND% 0409 - Crate Opens

%ACT% They climb into the crate, and close it from the inside

%SND% 0410 - Crate Closes

%LIG% right side of Stage down to 20%

Gavius: "Flavius Secundus!"

Flavius: "At your service! What may I bring you, my good Sir? I've some of the finest wines the sunny hillsides of Vesuvius have to offer!"

Gavius (arrogant): "I'm not here to get drunk, you idiot. I'm looking for a little white vixen by the name of Vesonia and her accomplices - a fox and a rat. Have you seen them?"

Flavius: "Yes, sir. Of course I have. Vesonia comes here every day to get fresh wine for Scipio and the Gladiators."

Gavius: "And when was the last time you saw her?"

Flavius: "This morning."

Gavius: "Very interesting, because people on the streets saw her running right this way, just a few minutes ago. I'm sure you wouldn't mind if we had a closer look around, would you?"

Flavius (uncertain): "Of course not. Make yourselves right at home ..."

%ACT% Soldier starts walking around the main room, looking at the patrons (who flinch at his merciless stare!)

%ACT% Gavius opens the door to the storage room, walking inside

%SND% 0407 FADE
%SND% 0411 - Open Door
%SND% 0412 - Thriller Music 2

%LIG% right side of stage up to 40%

%ACT% Flavius follows Gavius

%ACT% Gavius looks at all the containers in the storage room

Gavius: "What's this?"

%ACT% Gavius points at a large sack

Flavius: "Pine Nuts!"

Gavius: "Aha, I see. HAH!"

%ACT% Gavius beats the sack with his sword, nuts pour out.

%SND% 0413 - cloth ripipng / pouring nuts

Gavius: "Seems you were right. good for you. Now what's in here?"

%ACT% Gavius points at a large basket

Flavius (frightened): "F...f...fresh bread from the bakery."

Gavius: "HAH!"

%ACT% Gavius swings is sword, and violently sinks it into the basket, pulling out a load of bread

%SND% 0414 - Stab!

Gavius: "Very well. No one hiding in there, as well."

%ACT% Gavius shakes the bread off the sword (he doesn't care spoiling it)

Gavius: "Now look what we have here."

%ACT% Gavius knocks on the crate our heroes are hiding in

%SND% 0415 - Knock Knock Knock

%ACT% Flavius hastily steps in between the crate and Gavius

Flavius: "This ... this is a very special order, from a highly esteemed member of the magistrate! A piece of the finest smoked ham, imported from Tarraco in the Province of Tarraconensis. Absolutely precious!"

Gavius: "Open it!"

Flavius: "I'm sorry, but my customer insists that his precious shipment stays sealed, to preserve its genuine quality! He won't be back to pick it up before next week, and exposing it to the rough air of Pompeii would certainly ruin the flavour!"

Gavius: "Are you deaf? I said, open it!"

Flavius: "But ..."

%SND% 0416 - Door Opens & Crowd
%SND% 0417 - Tavern Ambience

%ACT% The door opens, and a group of (already drunk) Nucerian "gladiator fans" enter the tavern, carrying some of those spinny rattles, wearing bobble hats in team colours and football scarves

%ACT% One of the Nucerians carries a giant "fanfare trumpet"

%SND% 0416 (cont.) - Nucerians (singing): "Ave! Ave, ave ave! Nuceria, ave!"

%ACT% The trumpeter blows the trumpet, which sounds remarkably like a modern "air horn"

%SND% 0416 (cont.) - Horn

Flavius: "Oh no! If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll be right back!"

%ACT% Flavius runs out of the storage room and stands between the opposing teams

%ACT% The patrons in the tavern (apparently Pompeiians) stand up from their table

Flavius: "Hello, my friends, and welcome to my humble tavern! Since we're all grown up roman citizens, I'm sure that we can all get along peacefully, and ... "

Patron1: "Oh, shut up!"

%ACT% Patron1 moves towards Nucerian1, punching Flavius

%SND% 0418 - Punch!

Flavius: "YARGH!!!"

%ACT% Flavius falls over and disappears

Patron1 (moving even closer): "What the hell are YOU doing here? This is Pompeii! There's no place for losers here, so you'd better go back where you came from, Nucerians!"

Nucerian1: "Your Gladiators are nothing but gay pussies! You don't know shit about fighting! "

%ACT% Nucerians chant to the melody of "we are the champions"

%SND% 0419 - Nucerians: "We are Nucerians!"
%SND% 0419 - Nucerians: "We are Nucerians"
%SND% 0419 - Nucerians: "No time for pussies!"
%SND% 0419 - Nucerians: "cause we're from Nuceria!"

Patron1: "Get the fuck out of here, or we'll show you how we deal with scum like you here in Pompeii!"

%ACT% Nucerians sing to the melody of "she'll be coming around the mountains"

%SND% 0420 - Nucerians (singing): "You can stick Pompeii up your arse!"
%SND% 0420 - Nucerians (singing): "You can stick Pompeii up your arse!"
%SND% 0420 - Nucerians (singing): "You can stick Pompeii, you can stick Pompeii, you can stick Pompeii up your arse!"

Patron1: "That's it! Come on boys, let's stick some Pompeii in their FACE!"

%ACT% The trumpet guy blows his trumpet

%SND% 0421 - Horn

%ACT% Patrons and Nucerians start to fight, pushing over tables and mugs, throwing chairs, the trumpet guy beating his opponent with his trumpet

%SND% 0421 (cont.) - Fighting noises

%ACT% Gavius returns to the bar and draws his sword!

%ACT% Soldier follows Gavius

%SND% 0421 FADE
%SND% 0422 - Fighting noises subsiding (on STOP!)

Gavius: "STOP! Enough of this! The fighting stops now, or I'll have you all arrested and thrown into the arena!"

%ACT% Everyone stops and looks at Gavius

%ACT% Patron1 steps forward and gets uncomfortably close to Gavius

Patron1: "Which side are you on?"

Gavius: "Don't you know who I am? I am Caius Gavius Rufus, and there is only one side to be on: The great Roman Empire and our resplendent Emperor Titus Vespasianus!"

%ACT% Gavius pushes Patron 1 back into the crowd

%SND% 0422 (cont.) - Angry Crowd getting louder

Nucerian1: "How about you mind your Emperor's business elsewhere, tin man?"

Patron1: "Yeah, this is about the games, I don't give a fuck about the Empire!"

Nucerian1: "And your pussy of an Emperor!"

%ACT% Nucerians and Patrons team up against the Soldiers

%SND% 0422 FADE
%SND% 0423 - Nucerians, Patrons: "Soldiers, go home, go home! Soldiers go home!" (Melody of "kölle allaf")
%SND% 0423 - Everybody Cheers!
%SND% 0424 - Adventure Music

Gavius: "This is a defamation of the Empire! Treason! Domestic disturbance! Out, everyone out! I will have you thrown to the lions!"

%SND% 0423 (cont.) - Fighting Noises

%ACT% Everyone starts to beat up the Soldier and Gavius.

%ACT% Flavius stands up, and runs into the back room.

%ACT% Flavius opens the crate

%SND% 0425 - Crate opens

Flavius: "Now is your chance! Get out of here wile you still can!"

%ACT% Everyone gets out of the crate

Vesonia: "Thank you, Flavius!"

%ACT% Vesonia hugs Flavius

%ACT% Everyone runs outside, ducking past the still ongoing tavern brawl

%SND% 0424 (cont.) - Adventure Music peaks

%LIG% Lights out

%HND% Curtain - close